Mersey Waters designated as Enterprise Zone

Wirral Waters
Image caption The Wirral Waters project covers 500 acres of Birkenhead docklands

The Mersey Waters project has been designated as one of 11 enterprise zones around the country.

The special status means tax breaks and planning rules will be cut back to attract new businesses and create jobs.

The Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone straddles both sides of the river and covers two major regeneration projects in Wirral and Liverpool.

Leader of Wirral Council, Jeff Green, said it would "act as a catalyst for investment both sides of the river".

Rod Holmes, Chair of The Mersey Partnership, said: "It is now generally recognised, in the Liverpool city region and beyond that the Mersey and Liverpool Port are grossly underutilised UK assets."

He said that their revival would be a huge boost to the local economy.

Liverpool Labour councillor Joe Anderson said: "I do not believe that any other area of the country has the quality of development opportunities that we have.

"We are absolutely committed to doing all we can to work with government to achieve our ambitions."

Wirral Waters is centred on the left bank of the river at the Birkenhead Docks and Liverpool Waters is focused towards the north of Liverpool city centre in the derelict dock areas adjacent to Princes Dock.

The government has promised to invest at least £100m in the zones before the next election.

'Rebalance economy'

The Wirral Waters scheme is one of the UK's biggest regeneration plans and will include 15,000 new homes and the creation of 25,000 new jobs.

The proposals, which could take up to 40 years to fully complete, will see the transformation of 500 acres of Birkenhead docklands into offices, leisure and residential accommodation.

Developer Peel Holdings intends to invest £4.5 billion in Birkenhead over the coming decades.

Mr Green said: "Today's announcement by government represents a fantastic additional vote of confidence in the future of Wirral's economy.

"Wirral Waters is already an attractive investment opportunity but its designation as an enterprise zone will allow us to offer tax incentives in the first years of occupancy, which will give businesses locating on the site a great head start.

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